by Niels Strandskov

WDir. Josef Fares

Whatever your idea of “Swedish film” consists of, it will probably be challenged by Josef Fares’ “Kops.” This amalgam of “Super Troopers” and “Mayberry RFD” couldn’t have less in common with Ingmar Bergman’s expressionist philosophical treatises or Lasse Hallström’s treacly Bildungsroman, “My Life as a Dog.”

Set in the sleepy-to-the-point-of-being-comatose Swedish village of Högboträsk, “Kops” introduces us to a police force in crisis. Its tiny station (six officers) is going to be made redundant due to lack of crime.

Since this is not Bergman, there’s no existential drama. The cops, pragmatic guardians of the status quo that they are, decide that the best way to save the station is by creating their own crime wave. Of course, since it’s been ages since they’ve even seen a criminal, their attempts to terrorize the countryside alternate between ridiculous Hollywood-influenced bravado and inept milquetoast bungling.

Then there’s the love story. Officer Jacob (Fares Fares) chats up Jessica (Eva Röse), the headquarters’ functionary who’s going to close the station. Their moment of bonding involves inserting an entire can of snuff into each of their mouths in turn. Unfortunately, Jacob screws things up by inadvertently smacking her in the face.

The constant juxtaposition of Hollywood plots and production values with subtle Swedish mocking prevents “Kops” from falling into simple mimicry.

In a world constantly under the threat of U.S. cultural imperialism, it’s extraordinarily refreshing to see a film that beats a Hollywood product on its own terms.